Verizon Wireless plans to roll out its first mobile devices for its forthcoming 4G network in mid-2011, according to a Thursday report in The Wall Street Journal.
Verizon plans to open its 4G network -- also known by its clumsy official name Long Term Evolution (LTE) -- to customers in 25 to 30 markets by the end of the year, bringing wireless broadband speeds of up to five times faster than 3G networks to approximately 100 million people. Verizon plans to launch its 4G service nationwide in 2013.
The transition to 4G won't happen overnight: Verizon Wireless CTO Anthony Melone told The Wall Street Journal that its first 4G devices will be equipped with both a 4G and 3G chipset as opposed to a single, integrated chipset. This will provide backward compatibility and also offer Verizon some wiggle room, as carrier network service launches don't always happen within their planned timeframes.
For carriers like AT&T, which has acknowledged being unable to meet demand for wireless broadband in iPhone-rich environments like San Francisco and New York, 4G can't get here soon enough. AT&T is facing a near-revolt within its customer base, and executives have hinted that usage based wireless bandwidth pricing may be the only sustainable model going forward.
AT&T is hardly alone in whining about customers' bandwidth consumption, however. All carriers want to deploy 4G so that they can provide a superior service level and finally do away with the all-you-can eat pricing that is currently weighing on their 3G network service levels.
Mobile computing is still ramping up, and there's no question that without major infrastructure investments carriers will face a crippling bandwidth crunch. AT&T and T-Mobile are also building LTE networks, but Sprint has opted to go with Wi-Max and offers its own 4G service in conjunction with its partner Clearwire.
Verizon is widely regarded as the top wireless network nationwide and was ranked first in Consumer Reports annual survey of wireless customer satisfaction.